Socialist Worker

Boddies workers are frothing with anger

by Gary Duke
Issue No. 1929

Brewery workers at Boddington’s in Manchester struck last week for three days.

They are angry at plans by the Belgian multinational Interbrew to close the Strangeways brewery and sack 35 unionised factory floor workers.

The sackings are despite assurances given to the workforce by Interbrew, which bought Boddington’s from Whitbread in 2000, that there would be no job losses. Beer has been brewed at this site since 1778.

Confidence was high on the picket line on Tuesday of last week, and there was an air of defiance among the pickets.

“This site made a profit of around £14 million last year,” TGWU union convenor Mike Thompson said. “Management have reneged on a deal struck two years ago that promised to secure the long term future of the workforce.”

Another striker, Ed, continued, “They want to shift production of ‘The Cream of Manchester’ to another of their lager breweries in Magor, South Wales. Some workers there are paid £6,000 less than workers here. You can see why they want to sack us—greed.”

Representatives from the PCS, Respect and Natfhe had visited the picket line already, and Manchester and Salford University student union executive officers were planning to visit the picket lines to show solidarity with striking workers.

Four more days of strike action were planned for Monday to Thursday of this week. Delegates had travelled to the South Wales brewery to build solidarity for the strike among fellow workers.

The workforce has decided to internationalise their action by calling on Interbrew workers across Europe to back their industrial action and their fight against the closure.

Management at Interbrew have warned workers that they should not try to involve workers in Europe. The company is frightened of industrial action spreading, and this shows where the potential to win this strike lies.

Trade unions and trade unionists are encouraged to join the picket.


Carlsberg

UNION members at Carlsberg’s Northampton brewery are to strike for 16 days from Wednesday of next week, hitting lager production in the run-up to Christmas.

The strike vote by members of the TGWU union followed the failure of talks to resolve problems over restructuring and a pay freeze for many of the 180 workers.

Over 70 percent of the workers voted for action on an 86 percent turnout.

Carlsberg has said it wants to restructure the Northampton site, which will involve establishing multi-skilled technician posts.

Some people will be graded into “developer roles” after a qualifying period, and others into “non-technician” roles. The TGWU says the developer posts will attract a 2.3 percent pay increase, but the non-technicians will get nothing.

At Carlsberg’s Leeds brewery after two years only half the workforce is graded onto the higher paid posts.

The union is considering a 16-day strike in January if the dispute is not resolved.

E-mail messages of support to mike.thompson@interbrew.co.uk


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Article information

News
Sat 27 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1929
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